You’ve worked through the question of whether you want to sell on Amazon. Now you’re ready to move forward with getting signed up or “registered” as a seller. So what happens when you register? What is now expected of you as an Amazon Seller? What steps should you take immediately to prepare your store for customers? We’ll walk you through setting up your account in Seller Central, and what you need to do before you list your first product on Amazon.
Getting Started as an Amazon Seller
To sign up, you can go through a few different self-service options:
- Go to services.amazon.com, then click on one of the “Start selling” links.
- Go to Sellercentral.amazon.com, then click on the “Register now” button or the “Selling on Amazon” link (both take you to services.amazon.com).
- Go to the bottom of the Amazon.com home page and click on “Sell on Amazon” under the “Make Money with Us” section.
It doesn’t really matter through which of these pages you start your registration process, as they all take you to the same signup page on services.amazon.com.
Next, you will need to decide what type of seller you want to be: a Professional Seller or an Individual Seller. Professional Sellers are typically sellers that plan to list more than few handfuls of products and expect to be regular sellers in the future, whereas individual sellers are typically sellers that have a small supply of product that they want to sell and then be done with selling. Being an Individual Seller makes more sense if you’re a college student wanting to sell some used textbooks at the end of term, or you’re cleaning out cupboards and found some old gifts you don’t want so you decide to sell them on Amazon, rather than selling them locally.
Differences Between an Individual Seller and a Professional Seller
There are five subtle but important tradeoffs between selecting a Professional Seller and an Individual Seller account on Amazon:
- Monthly fee:
Professional Sellers pay a $39.99 monthly fee for their accounts to be active, even if they don’t list or sell anything. Individual sellers don’t have this monthly fee to contend with. (Amazon makes a decent amount of money from Professional sellers that keep their accounts active but don’t list any products for sale.)
- Listing fees:
While Individual and Professional Sellers pay the same referral fees on product sales, Individual sellers are charged a $0.99/per item fee for each unit that sells. Professional sellers don’t have this fee. While an Individual Seller pays no monthly fee for your seller account, you will pay a per-item $0.99 fee on each sale in additional to the usual Amazon referral fees. Given that the Professional Seller monthly fee is $39.99, if you plan to sell more than 40 units a month, you may want to consider getting a Professional Seller account just for the purpose of saving on the per-item fee (plus there are many other advantages being a Professional Seller). Also keep in mind that you’re allowed to flip back and forth between being an Individual Seller and Professional Seller. This is worth remembering if you decide to stop selling as a Professional Seller for some period of time, and don’t want to be charged a monthly fee during that no-sales period.
- Shipping rates:
Only professional sellers can set their own shipping rates they charge Amazon customers. If you plan to make shipping a profit center for you, it can be very important to be able to set your own shipping rates that you charge Amazon customers. But remember, Amazon charges you referral fees on the combined product price and shipping cost, so you’ll want to factor that referral fee into your shipping rates.
- Listing new products:
Apart from a few minor exceptions, only Professional Sellers can create new listings for products never offered before on Amazon. Individual sellers can only add their offers to listings already created on Amazon.
- Gated categories:
Only Professional Sellers can apply to be allowed to list and sell in the dozen or so categories of products that are currently gated on Amazon. These categories include Automotive & Powersports, Collectible Books, Collectible Coins, Entertainment Collectibles, Fine Art, Gift Cards, Jewelry, Music & DVD, Major Appliances, Sports Collectibles, Streaming Media Players, Video, DVD, & Blu-ray, and Watches.
Information You Need to Streamline Your Amazon Seller Registration
While the registration process is fairly straightforward and can be completed in under an hour, there are a number of pieces of information you want to have in advance in order to streamline the process. While the rules for signing up on Amazon differ from country to country, let’s focus on what it will take to get registered on Amazon.com, the US marketplace. While you can stop the registration process partway through and return to it later, it’s much easier to collect the following five pieces of information before you start the registration process:
- Your legal business name, address, and contact information.
- An email address that can be used for this company account. This email account should be set up already, as you will start receiving important emails from Amazon almost immediately
- An internationally chargeable credit card with a valid billing address. (If the credit card number isn’t valid, Amazon will cancel your registration.)
- A phone number where you can be reached during this registration process (so have your phone nearby during registration).
- Your tax identity information (your Social Security number or your company’s Federal Tax ID number). To submit your tax identity information, the registration process will take a brief detour to a “1099-K Tax Document Interview,” where your tax information is submitted and verified. Amazon is required by the IRS to collect your tax ID information so the IRS can be notified of any possible taxable earnings you make through your Amazon account. The actual responsibility of paying your taxes is strictly yours, but Amazon is required to report that you have been a revenue-collecting Amazon seller during the past tax year.
Once you’ve provided all of this information, you’re a registered seller on Amazon. Almost immediately, Amazon will encourage you to get started with listing your products, for once you list even a single product, you become a “Launched” seller, rather than just a “Registered, Not Launched” Seller. If you remain a “Registered, Not Launched” seller, Amazon will email you several times encouraging you to list products. While Amazon enjoys the $39.99 monthly fee it gets from you, Amazon is likely to make much more money from you on referral fees once you start selling products.